Prologue: All Those Angels With Their Wings Glued On
Mike, who sucks at all games, plays on easy. His jaw goes slack and his eyes light up as he watches the fret scrolling. He is totally engrossed, like a child watching an animatronic monkey.
Jude is a machine. He builds up star power and then waits until he gets a x4 multiplier. He then uses it during the easy parts with lots of notes. He dominates the high score board on any song he knows. He doesn't play the songs he doesn't know. He stands impassively, staring intently at the scrolling dots. He is impossible to beat. He once asked if he could sit down to play. We refused. There is a limit.
Trevor is the anti-Jude. He moves around. He bends at the waist. He steps forward and back, prancing a little. His head moves. Sometimes he even looks away from the screen. He has so much style that he accidentally pops off star power before he means to. But that doesn't faze him. He just rolls with it, pretending he meant to do star power.
When the song is over and the game proclaims "You rock!", Trevor throws both arms into the air. Never mind that to Guitar Hero, everyone rocks. It has delivered a special message to Trevor, and he triumphantly receives it. He rocks.
Douglas refuses to play. "You guys have no idea how fucking stupid you look with those toy guitars."
He's right. But before he shakes his head and goes into the back room to play something else, we tell him, "You have no idea how cool we feel." And that's pretty much the whole deal with Guitar Hero in particular, and videogames in general.
To be continued...
Tom Chick has been writing about videogames for fifteen years. His work appears in Games for Windows Magazine, Yahoo, Gamespy, Sci-Fi, and Variety. He lives in Los Angeles. Shoot Club appears in this space every Thursday.